Autumn/ Winter 2019

Autumn was a very beautiful time and we managed to do so much. We started off in October in Norfolk with a week away with family celebrating our wedding anniversary, Rob’s birthday and the 6th anniversary of my heart and double lung transplant. It was a very special time for all of us being together.

We also enjoyed a couple of visits back to our home in Cumbria, enjoying some glorious autumn days and sunshine and of course the beautiful Lake District scenery.

November was a very busy one, Rob spent quite a lot of time rehearsing for his play at the Barn Theatre, The Railway Children in readiness for December when it was running in the lead up to Christmas. We also held our Transplant Support Group Christmas party and attended the PH Support Group Christmas party too. We enjoyed a lovely Christmas family get together on the Nene Valley Railway too. That’s become an annual habit now and this year we had our beautiful Darcy. It seemed the Christmas festivities started in November.

In December we sneaked in another visit to Cumbria and enjoyed doing a little Christmas shopping and seeing the Christmas lights and cosy log fires everywhere. We were busy preparing for Christmas and Rob performed in his play. We enjoyed another family get together when we all went along to see him.

Actual Christmas was another wonderful family time. I was pleased I’d managed another December away from hospital. We did catch colds, but we all had it, I was lucky mine didn’t turn serious and the fact that we all had the same virus meant we could be together. We enjoyed the Papworth Hospital Charity Christmas Annual Carol service – the first one I’d been well enough in December for since my transplant, so that felt an achievement.

We finished December with another family outing to see the ‘Enchanted Christmas Lights’ at Audley End, an English Heritage place. This was lovely, we had perfect dry and mild weather conditions and the lights were amazing. We enjoyed the fun fayre with Freddie and toasted marshmallows and then finished off with hot dogs and mulled wine for supper.

It was a lovely end to another great year. A year where we felt we’d spent so much lovely time with family and friends and made so many happy memories once more. Despite my health setback in April, I’ve managed to go the longest run yet in the last three years without needing intravenous antbiotics or an actual hospital visit. A chance to get a little stonger, despite my lungs being a little frail. That’s got to be a positive way to end the year.

Organ Donation Week

This week has been National Organ Donation Week here in the UK, so a special week to promote awareness of Organ Donation.

I’ve been deeply affected by transplant and organ donation now for over nine years and it’s a cause dear to my heart.

On Monday I was asked to do an interview with Heart FM radio for the South East. It was good to help and they played clips from my interview throughout the afternoon, so hopefully many people may have heard it and it may make a small difference.

It’s nearly time for the anniversary of my transplant and each year I think of all the wonderful things in my life that organ donation has given me.

This year’s highlight has to be the birth of our granddaughter, little Darcy. I wasn’t ever supposed to see her, but yet thanks to my donor, I’ve shared so many special moments with her already and she’s only 5 months old.

I’ve also been able to see my gorgeous grandson Freddie grow from a baby, watching all his first steps to toddlerhood. This year I’ve spent so much time with him and he chats away, his speech growing daily. We have so many lovely conversations together and make up our own games to play. Being a grandma is a wonderful thing and feels so special and such a privilege in my position.

We’ve managed a few breaks away to Norfolk and the Lake District with the family, which has felt so special too and given us many special and priceless moments to share. We don’t travel abroad any more, due to my health, but we continue to enjoy visiting the places we love and exploring all that’s around us. Sometimes we forget the beauty that’s right under our noses and don’t see it. I still feel appreciative of all that’s there to see and do, from simple things like watching the birds, seeing the flowers growing in the garden and just having a simple cup of coffee thanks to my donor.

Rob and I are still involved with our Transplant Support Group at Papworth, helping to support other transplant patients and working on projects with the transplant team. This will always be a cause dear to our hearts and feels important to us. Our hospital has moved premises this year, which has been a big upheaval and a time of uncertainty, but we are pleased that we now have a wonderful, brand new and state of the art hospital for my continuing care and that of other fellow patients.

I’ve also been enjoying a period of steady health after having had the pneumonia, sepsis and blood clot earlier in spring. Luckily my local hospital moved so swiftly and I’ve been able to make a good recovery with the help of oxygen.

Ted, our cocker spaniel, is also a big part of our lives. He will be nearly four soon, we feel like we’ve always had him and he just slots into our family life. He often comes with us on holidays and days out and just adores the grandchildren. Sarah and Oli have a new cocker spaniel puppy, Finn. He’s such a character and a live wire, but quickly becoming another established member of the family.

Thanks to Organ Donation we are living a pretty normal family life and appreciating all the good things. We’re busy with projects such as decorating and the garden too, just normal family stuff, but that is what organ donation is all about, just to enable us to have a normal and fulfilled life.

I’m still working on my next book too. If things had gone to plan, it should have been finished by now, but all my serious health issues of the last few years halted things and actually changed the course of how this story was going. I’m still working hard on it and have a first draft manuscript to work on now and I’m so pleased I’ve reached this stage.

However, I want to do a serious overhaul of this draft, as my situation health wise changed dramatically from my original plans and ideas and as it’s another memoir, I want to reflect the true essence of all that’s happened so my new book may help others in similar situations with declining health. So watch this space, it’s still a work in progress, but again I feel privileged I’m in a position to be writing and doing something I love.

Organ Donation is the greatest gift and it not only benefits the recipient, but the benefits ripples out amongst the recipient’s family, friends and community. There is no price you can put on it.

The law will be changing on organ donation from an ‘opt in’ system to an ‘opt out’ one. It doesn’t really matter which system is in place, it will be family who have to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ if you were to be in the unfortunate position to donate your organs, so it’s most important to let your family know your wishes whatever way you feel about organ donation.

All I can say is that Organ Donation is the most wonderful thing and that me and my family are forever grateful to my donor and their wonderful family who said ‘yes’ at the most difficult time in their lives.

Thanks so much for reading 😄